Renting a 2nd property to get a school place(47 Posts)
Parents in my DC's class have just announced they are moving into a rental property while they have some work done to the house they own and usually live in. This happily coincides with the Secondary School Application window and fortuitously puts them in catchment for a previously out-of-reach 'outstanding' school.
Clever things timing the renovations in this way! But a quick look at our County Schools Admissions website reveals: 'Examples of cases that will be fully investigated and applications withdrawn include: renting a property close to a popular school but retaining another property'.
Seems pretty clear but they're confident that a 12 months lease will give the Council all the comfort it needs - and another family pulled off a very similar move last year. Maybe this rule doesn't actually get enforced?
I guess it depends whether the LA or schools (where they are the admission authority) check council tax bills etc.
Or whether anyone grasses on them.
Obviously things change from one LA to another but I can confirm that in my LA they definitely do check. They will be paying rates on the other property and this will then come up as a big red flag that there are two addresses associated with the family. Also in my LA there are known rental properties near to popular oversubscribed schools which are red-flagged so if anybody applies from that address it comes up as a query
Whilst the parents might think they are safe with a 12 month rental, I would not be that sure, especially if it appears that the renovation work is unlikely to last more than 6 months.The LA may have to bit their tongue a bit and accept the situation to start with but it would be no surprise if they checked where the family were living sometime shortly after the March allocations came out. If they have moved back into the main property then they will definitely remove the place.
It’s not unusual to rent while having a big renovation and I know plenty of builds that go on for more than 12 months, so unless you have concrete proof I’d keep your suspicions to yourself personally!
Could it be genuine
Yes, of course. Some people have a whole house renovated in one go with all of the associated mess and noise and inconvenience. If they are fortunate enough to be able to pay to escape that, then that is something many people would choose to do.
However,that's irrelevant to school applications.
If a family in that situation are also applying to a school during this time, they must use the address of the house being renovated not the temporary rented one.
The LA specifically say that renting one property whilst retaining another is an example of a case that will trigger investigation. And yes, they do enforce this (else everyone with a spare £12 - £24k could simply buy themselves a school place every time admissions time rolled around).
It will almost certainly be flagged in the checks done on council taxes or via someone reporting them. That leads to more checks and a decision.
A case when it might be allowed would be one where the house being renovated is entirely uninhabitable eg if it burnt down and is literally being rebuilt. In most cases the council's checks won't reveal anything like that and they won't allow it.
Here's an example of a case that hit the papers when parents moved for house renovations, applied from the new address and were told it was the wrong one.
Schools are wising up to this. From the admissions arrangements of the school where I work:
"If a parent, with whom the child is resident for the majority of school nights, owns an alternative property within 20 miles of the school which has been the main family home within the last five years, a property closer to the school will not be accepted as the designated normal home address for the purpose of applying the admission rules, even if the former property is leased to a third party."
Polyjuice they're not my suspicions, the parents are quite candid about their motives. And unless their contractors are spectacularly incompetent, the work they intend to undertake certainly won't take 12 months. They're playing the system. And if I'm honest, I almost admire their willingness to move out of a more conveniently located, established family home into less comfortable accommodation to secure the school place. I wouldn't be prepared to go through the upheaval.
As in many areas, the system round here is terribly skewed with a small number of highly favoured schools flourishing while the remaining 'under-performers' stagnate because people are pulling every trick to avoid them. I can understand it, but I don't like it.
What I'm interested in is the LA's wording and its real life application. Thanks Tiggytape for all that info - we're Home Counties - maybe the rigour being applied in the capital will ripple out this way.
What I'm interested in is the LA's wording and its real life application.
It is true that the rigour applied to catching admissions cheats has varied, and still does vary, in part due to the number of admissions cheats a LA encounter. Areas where they've had surplus places, lots of good schools etc may be slower on the crackdown than other areas that have contended with years of this sort of thing.
But this isn't a sophisticated cheat. Red flags will be raised even by very quick and free checks that all councils tend to do i.e. council tax payment checks. Only the cases that get red flagged in the early stages (or reported by members of the public and school staff) tend to get further more time-consuming checks.
Given that your LA specifically ban using a rented address without disposing of the original address. And given that this is going to be easy to spot, it is expected that even if nobody reports them, they should be caught.
You might not know though for ages if at all. There isn't a great fuss made about cheats caught early on in the process (before offers day).
The council simply write to the parents and say:
"You've said your address is Y. You are mistaken, your address is X. Although we agree that you are currently living at Y, you have not disposed of address X and, in accordance with our admissions policy X is therefore classed as your admissions address. You need do nothing further - we have amended your application form with your correct address.
P.S if you disagree with this decision tough luck - take it to appeal and try to explain to them why you have a legitimate reason to do this"
Many councils don't even bother writing. They just use what they regard as the correct address without notifying the parents. In some cases the child still qualifies for a place at the preferred school so the parents believe, wrongly, that renting made the difference. In other cases the first parents know is when they don't get any of the schools near the rented address.
And, of course, a proportion of the pupils that leave a secondary school during Y7 have actually been thrown out because the admission authority discovered that the parents cheated. There isn't usually any song and dance made about it. The child just isn't there any more.
Having renovations is fine. In that case they still need to apply from the main address.
Hate this sort of thing
In my experience they get away with it. Benefit fraud, school place fraud. All of it.
A lot of people are caught MissWimpy but fellow parents are very unlikely to ever know about it.
Parents only ever hear the boasts of people who do get away with cheating even if they represent a very small % of total applications and a decreasing % of the fraudulent ones.
A parent is unlikely to turn up at the school gates in March or April and say "we're gutted we got in Local Infants like you lot when we went to all the expense of renting near to Super Infants but the council caught us."
Equally parents whose children are forced to leave a school when cheating is discovered are unlikely to tell everyone they've been kicked out for cheating. They unsurprisingly make it sound like they chose to leave and it was their idea to go.
Well they pulled it off. Place confirmed today. Know lots of other kids living closer to the school than this family's real permanent address who didn't get offers. Wish I had the balls to report but resorting to bitching on Mumsnet instead.
Report them! There is a child out there whose place they have taken who might have really good reasons for needing/wanting the school. It's not a victimless piece of fraud.
As frustrating and unfair that it is. You should only report them if you actually have evidence of the alleged fraud. Them boasting about it isn't evidence.
I disagree Firefox .
If the OP reports them and it's all fine, then no harm done. Surely all that needs to be said is 'I have reason to believe family A claimed their address is X but to my understanding it is rented and they still own Y. Please can you check in case the wrong address has been used, as I would hate for another child actually living closer to have missed out.'
It is not up to the OP to have irrefutable evidence. They only need reasonable suspision to report.
Depends on the school or LEA. Round here it’s rife for the grammar school which is in a shit area with cheap rents. Nobody investigates and people don’t even bother moving in. Just pay the rent for six months.
People doing this caused dd to miss out in a place after passing the eleven plus (places allocated on distance once you’ve passed, not highest marks). Headmaster suggested that if I rented a house in town and showed them the paperwork I would move up the waiting list.
Report them. It is not too late for that place to be withdrawn. I simply can't understand why anyone would be reluctant to report in those circumtstances - they are committing fraud! You can be anonymous and they will never know it's you if you are worried about that.
As Teen says - there's not penalty for an innocent person who is reported. The council just do checks. Of course if they find a rented address and another address that was once used as a family home then, they might be doing a lot more checks and ultimately withdrawing the offer. But that's as it should be. Why should some families lose their place because others have the money to cheat them out of it?
MrsJoshDun - sorry to hear that and sorry your council was so poor in responding. It was once pretty common for many councils to be utterly hopeless on this issue (partly, in their defence, because years ago so few people would do such crazy things to cheat when birth rates were lower and competition less intense).
Most of them are a lot better now but, even if a parent faces a hopeless one, they should challenge it via appeal and adjudicator if necessary. The admissions authority has a duty to ensure places are fairly allocated. They can't just shrug their shoulders and say "Who cares? If people want to pay to cheat, let them. It doesn't matter who gets the places or how and we can't be bothered to investigate and stop it." There are laws governing school admissions, it is a process that should be taken very seriously and carried out fairly and parents have a right to expect that authorities enforce that. It isn't just a pot-luck system - it is highly regulated and should be correctly administered.
I am another who would abolutely report them. If they have lied about retaining ownership of the original property then they have stolen a place from another child.
There’s another kid who missed out on a school place because of that family. State school places are supposed to be given fairly according to open and transparent admissions criteria. This family played the system so they could effectively buy a place at a better school. I’d report.
Purely out of interest (honest guv i dont have to do school apps anymore) could they have circumvented the system checks by moving to a different LA but dustance nearer or something (overthinking it!)
I'd report them to the LA. Don't let these chancers get away with it.
At least in our area this would be legitimate. If they moved out of their house they would need to use the address they are actually living at.
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